In the morning, I wait for her at breakfast as I always do. I prefer my days to start with plenty of coffee, a newspaper, and some light banter. It cheers me up a lot, especially when it’s chatter with her. For some reason, I can’t get enough of her filthy mouth even though she uses it to throw all kinds of expletives in my face. I don’t mind because I adore her tenacity.
It’s a shame she refuses to talk to me this morning. In fact, from the moment she walked in, she seems as pale as a ghost, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of what we did in my study. Or rather … all the debauchery I put her through.
Does she still not recognize her own lust? Because I could swear I saw a hint of regret yesterday the moment our dirty moment ended. She keeps fighting the attraction, but there’s no need. She’s mine, and nothing will ever change that, so why not give in?
We both want it. Though, I have to admit, it’s mostly because I love the sight of my enemy’s daughter groveling at my feet. It gives me a kick to know he had to sacrifice her body and soul in order to keep his business afloat. That the money was worth even her life.
What a wretched fool … I can’t wait to break him by showing him all the footage I’ve collected of her, and all these filthy little things she does to turn me on. And I can’t fucking wait to see the horror settle on his face, and then the defeat that follows naturally.
His life is meaningless to me, and I hope the fucker dies a poor, lonely death.
But first, I have to make her fall for me.
There’s no point in flaunting her until she’s fully and completely mine by her own volition. It has to be her choice that ruins him, not mine.
I tap my fingers on the table as I take a bite of my cinnamon roll. She’s not even touching them or any of the food in front of her, and I wonder why. Did I mess her up that badly? Or is something wrong?
“Aren’t you hungry?” I ask, putting down my cinnamon roll. Her eyes follow the rolls as though she wants to take a bite. Why won’t she? I know she likes them.
She shakes her head and averts her eyes. “Not after yesterday.”
I snort. “C’mon. You can’t fool me. You loved what I did, and you know it.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she says, picking up her coffee to take a sip.
I narrow my eyes at her. “You don’t want to admit it, and that’s okay. We’ll get there eventually.”
“I don’t think so,” she says. “That’s gonna be the day I die.”
I laugh and start cutting up my egg on toast. “Should I arrange the funeral then? Because that’s going to be any day now.”
She throws me a look and picks up an egg, which she eats whole. “Go ahead. I’m slowly dying in this house anyway.”
“Now, now, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think?” I muse, taking a bite of my toast. “You’re being showered with gifts, plenty of food, and lots of comfort and luxury. What more could you want?”
“My freedom,” she says, crossing her arms.
Not this again. We’re both on edge but for completely different reasons. For some reason, I can’t seem to find my key, and it’s been bugging me ever since. I could swear I still had it in my pocket last night, but perhaps I placed it somewhere where even I can’t find it.
But I can’t show her an inkling of doubt because she’d claw the truth right out of me. And then it’ll be a game of catch. I can’t let it happen, so I have to remain cool even though she’s been anything but cool to me this morning.
If I still can’t find my key by noon, I’ll call up the locksmith for the extra he keeps in a safety deposit box. If it means I have to interrupt some important business I had to attend, then so be it. I need that goddamn key.
“We’ve been over this already,” I say, taking another bite. “Your freedom is confined to these walls unless I say so.”
“But you took me out to that restaurant,” she says.
I raise a brow. “So?” What does she want? I know she hated that place, and it was intended to be an intimidation of sorts to both her and her father. I don’t know why she’d bring that up again. I thought she’d already moved past it.
“You can take me out again,” she says.
Oh … so now she intends to use it against me. Clever girl.
I smile. Perhaps I will someday, but not when she demands it. “I could,” I murmur, “but I have lots of work to attend to today.”
“What about tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow’s busy too, I’m afraid. And the rest of the week,” I say, to which her face sours, and for some reason, that hurts my heart. The first time she said she wanted out, I wanted nothing more than to tie her to her bed. I never wanted her to get anywhere close to freedom.
“You’re making that up just to keep me here,” she hisses. “I can’t stay here all the time, Easton. I’m suffocating, can’t you see?”
“Hmm …” I mutter.
If I had my way, I’d lock her in a cage and throw away the key. Yet when I look at those beautiful, wistful eyes of hers, I melt away. I can’t ignore her desires any longer. I can’t get it across my heart to push my own agenda while sacrificing hers. After all, if I don’t nurture her, her heart will shrivel away and die.
“How can you expect me to love you when you don’t give me anything to love?” she murmurs, the pain in her eyes wounding my soul.
She’s right. If I want her fully and completely, I’m going to have to throw her a Hail Mary.
I take a deep breath through my nose, and say, “All right. Since you’ve behaved well these past few days, I’ll let you go out for the day.”
Her eyes sparkle with joy.
“If …” I add, holding up my knife, “you let Jill accompany you.”
The smile on her face dissipates.
“Take it or leave it,” I say, finishing my plate.
“Fine,” she snaps as though I’ll take the proposition away from her if she doesn’t comply. That’s a trick I always apply. It works in business … and with women.
I clear my throat. “Jill will take you to do some shopping. She said your closet was empty.”
She frowns. “No, I want to decide where we go.”
I cock my head and lick my lips for a second. “Charlotte,” I say with a stern voice, “don’t push me.”
She rubs her lips together and leans back in her chair.
“Do not waste this precious time to nitpick with me. I may be kind, but I am not patient,” I growl.
“Fine,” she says again. “I just want to get out of here.”
“To escape me,” I say with a grin, after which she looks away. “And I’ll allow it. For today.”
She doesn’t respond anymore, so I continue eating my breakfast, and she does too eventually.
I don’t know what’s gotten into her. One moment, she’s completely into me, almost begging me to kiss her, and then the next moment, she’s cold as ice, acting like a complete witch. She switches moods with just a snap of the finger. This girl is certainly a handful. If our children are anything like her, I’ll probably have to hire a dozen nannies, for sure.
And to be frank, I can’t fucking wait. Because the more time I spend with this woman, the more I realize … I married the perfect fucking girl for me.
As I expected, Easton had the car driven up to the front door, and his driver will drop Jill and me off right in front of the store. I’m sure he did it so he can make sure I won’t run off. Jill’s not only here to take me shopping but she’s also supposed to keep an eye out on me.
That’s okay. I didn’t think he’d ever let me off the property by myself.
But I didn’t expect him to ask Jill to do the stalking.
She’s such a friendly person and not at all someone who would keep basement prisoners. Yet she goes along with Easton’s wishes, whistling a tune while we’re in the car on the way to the store. The eerie sound gives me goose bumps.
“You’re not very talkative today, are you?” Jill suddenly asks.
I turn my head toward her, and answer, “Should I be?”
“Well, we’re finally going out together,” she says with a cheerful smile. “Just you and me!”
I don’t know why she’s so happy, but it’s scary since she knows this is all a farce. I’m still a prisoner inside Easton’s mansion. This “going out” isn’t really out … just another place where I don’t get to walk without supervision. I feel like a kid with a helicopter mom. Although this helicopter mom doesn’t know a thing about me, and that could definitely come in handy.
When we arrive at the store, Jill walks to my side and helps me get out, just like Easton always does. He probably told her how to do it because she too locks her arm in mine, preventing me from escaping.
The boutique we walk into is called Luuks, a high-end designer store. Each rack is sorted by color instead of a specific article of clothing, and they’re all very minimalistic. Jill sifts through them like crazy, but all I can think about is the notebook clenched between my top and underwear.
I couldn’t leave it at his house. The cleaning ladies would probably find it in a heartbeat, no matter where I hid it. There was no safe place in that house, so my only option was to bring it with me.
I hope to God Jill doesn’t try to come into the changing room with me.
Or that Easton doesn’t open that drawer in his study today.
A sudden hand on my shoulder makes me jolt.
“Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Jill says.
“No, it’s fine. I was just lost in my thoughts,” I joke, laughing it off as though it’s no big deal.
“Look what I found.” She holds up a bunch of dresses and skirts and tops, the type Easton would like. “I even found a cute hairpin to go with it. Pretty, right?”
“Yeah …” I reply, unsure what she wants from me.
“Let’s try them on,” she says, and she hurries me to the changing room, grabbing a pair of heels along the way. She hands me the clothes and heels, and says, “If you need help, call out, okay?” And then she closes the curtain.
Finally, I can breathe again. I sit down on the stool and stare at myself in the fancy decorated mirror, wondering what the hell I’m doing here.
I’m in a store. An actual store. In an actual city.
Not his mansion and not his property, but the outside world.
Freedom is right within my grasp. I should reach out and take it, right?
But how? How do I get out of here without Jill noticing, without his bodyguards following me?
And my father … Easton will surely kill him if I’m gone. But maybe there’s some way I can prevent it. If I can get to him sooner, I could warn him and tell him to hide. Maybe it could work. But how do I shake off Jill?
And will I be able to survive outside, not knowing any of the people or even the language?
I shiver from the thought and smile at myself in the mirror. Maybe I should just put on this dress and take my mind off things for a second. Maybe being Easton’s captive isn’t all as bad as it seems.
With my newly made key in my hand, I immediately go into my study. It’s been too long since I last looked at the cameras. I admit I’m addicted to them since she’s set foot in my mansion. All I want is to look at her. Is that so wrong?
Well, fuck being right. While she isn’t here, I can watch back old footage and enjoy myself. Maybe then I can forget about her not being here. This huge mansion can get lonely pretty fast.
With narrowed eyes, I look around, but nothing seems missing or out of place. Everything is still as I left it the last time I was still here … when she was in here with me.
Her scent still lingers in the air, and I sniff it up like drugs.
I go to my desk and pull up the laptop, starting the feeds. With my key, I open the drawer to find my lube next to her notebook … which is no longer here.
My eyes widen as I draw away from my desk and stare at the drawer.
My eyes aren’t lying … the notebook is gone.
What the fuck?!
Who did this? Who took my notebook?
Then it hits me. My disappearing key. Her sudden rage towards me this morning … and her seduction the night before … it was all a farce.
She stole my key, so she could get into my study and steal the notebook.
An unbridled rage flickers the fire inside me, and I roar out loud and reach for my phone.
Time to make a fucking call.